Thursday, February 23, 2017

providing some Historical context for "The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" (play), Algebra review

This afternoon, we will be watching a play about the a key portion of Harriet Tubman's life and the role she played in the Underground Railroad.  Who was she?

While she did not establish this elaborate network of escape routes, she was active in the resistance against the brutal institution of slavery.
The enslavement of Africans (, most of whom came from the West coast of the continent, was part of a system, supported by nations, for profit.
The first account of people from the African continent arriving in the Americas was in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.   This initial group was thought to be from the Caribbean, but it turns out they were originally from Angola, which would eventually be a Portuguese colony, and then stolen by some British pirates.

So where is Jamestown, Virginia?,+VA+23185,+USA/@37.2067772,-76.7806799,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89b061b14059fff3:0xa3e93d204d2fda86!8m2!3d37.2082678!4d-76.7740897

This video from Khan Academy provides some history of early settlement and slavery in what would become the United States of America:

While this was going down, and the early seeds of American slavery were being developed, Mathieu Da Costa was visiting Canada with the Portuguese.  Originally from the Benin Empire and a member of the Edo people, he was known as an excellent translator who was fluent in French, Dutch, English, and Portuguese.

Since the institution of slavery was set up to make money, Da Costa's excellent translations skills came in handy.  Unfortunately, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would be spearheaded by the Portuguese.  As I mentioned before, the initial arrivals in Jamestown were from Angola.,8.8356067,5z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x1a51f24ecaad8b27:0x590a289d0d4a4e3d!8m2!3d-11.202692!4d17.873887

To dispel some myths of what a major city looks like on the continent, here is a link to some images of Angola's capital city, Luanda:,+Angola/@-8.845504,13.192774,10.69z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1a51f15cdc8d2c7d:0x850c1c5c5ecc5a92!8m2!3d-8.8399876!4d13.2894368

As a reminder to all, Africa is not a country, but a continent made up of 54 nations, originally comprised of very different ethnicities and people:

Map (contemporary and historical) of African continent and Pre-Colonial contact:

Over the course of the school year, I have always aimed to dispel stereotypes on a number of fronts.  For me, being able to articulate and elaborate on the diversity and richness of African people is important.

Being able to see slavery as an institution that was concerned with money making and the dehumanizing of African people is important.  It shares a page of history with Canada's Residential Schools and the Holocaust of World War 2.

A key component to this lesson, and the play today, was to get a sense of the spirit of Harriet Tubman.  Like countless others, she resisted, strategized and fought for what she believed was just and proper.  I am sure this conversation will continue.

Algebra Review:

I held off on an early Algebra test so we could be together, as a large group, for a final review.  A small group of the class is off at the Quarter-Final Basketball playoffs.  I did some review today and will post up the pictures of some questions.  I will come back to them, once again, tomorrow.

Straightforward questions:

Review of "Fish question" using the Balance method

Variation:  Requires a little more concentration

Checking older posts (at least in the past week) will provide you with helpful links to some videos from both Math Antics and Khan Academy.


Please complete the Math from last night (p. 9, # 1,2,4) as written on the Homework board